Many Cubans believe that their prosperity depends on the elections in the United States. It is not true. It depends on a personal choice: to demand, here and now, their right to prosperity.
If the Democratic Party is confirmed as the winner of these elections, the reality is that a new government in Washington that is more accommodating to Castro will not by itself bring bonanza to the Cuban people.
The embargo that exists is against the Cuban state. US law does not prohibit commercial or financial transactions with Cuba’s genuine farmers and private entrepreneurs. These can freely import from and export to the United States and attract investors from any country to their own businesses.
The blockade is internal to Cuba. It is exercised by the state against an embryo of private sector so that it does not prosper, even at the price of holding the entire population hostage to the selfishness of an elite. If the embargo were lifted tomorrow – which is not likely today – some businesses of GAESA’s military would certainly improve and, to a much lesser extent, those of entrepreneurs related to tourism; but the bulk of the population would not leave behind its growing poverty. Why? Because of the internal blockade.
The United States is not a totalitarian country. It is capitalist and democratic. Whoever the president is, America is a market economy and private owners cannot be ordered to “help Cuba.” Investors and traders decide on their own whether to establish relations with a given country and for reasons different from those of their government.
The solution to Cuba’s economy is to promote national or foreign investments to increase national production and to establish a rule of law that provides legal security, independent courts, guarantees to private property, direct hiring of the workforce and many other details that would be thoroughly reviewed before making an investment is even considered. The investors’ mission is to have security for their investment and freedom to buy and sell where it is most profitable for them.
If the Cuban power elite, in order to improve bilateral relations, are thinking to throw a few crumbs in gestures that they can later reverse at will, that will not bring them the deluge of investors that they need today.
Releasing some prisoners, tolerating awkward dissidents a little bit, stopping acts of repudiation and lengthy sentences for the time being, or even reopening farmer markets are not substitutes for the radical reform investors deem necessary before risking their capital on a dysfunctional, authoritarian country with octogenarian leaders, an incompetent bureaucracy and crumbling infrastructure. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and even Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez cannot force Cuban-American or US capital to invest under those conditions.
So? Prosperity for Cubans depends on themselves. On their ability to rebel in order to establish a rule of law where every individual has the liberty to freely produce and sell the fruit of their work and investment and not be bound by a system that blocks the productive forces, their basic freedoms and their right to happiness. To demand their right to take charge of their own lives.
The reopening of the free farmer markets and the expansion of self-employment did not happen in 1994 due to pressures from Washington, but because the “maleconazo” enlightened the dictator on the limits of his despotism. The power of the people is real, but only when they decide to exercise it.
Yes we can!